Tag Archives: Documentary

Michael Winterbottom on Wolf Alice doc ‘On the Road’

“Living on a bus is not to be recommended.”

We’re speaking to the ever prolific British director Michael Winterbottom about his new film, On the Road, in the decidedly calm confines of a publicity company’s meeting room, where the only wheel-based peril comes when we almost trip over an office chair on our way out at the end of the interview.

Despite a resume that includes various road movies (Butterfly KissIn This WorldThe Trip and its sequels) and films built around a clear love for music (24 Hour Party People9 Songs), On the Road is, somewhat surprisingly, Winterbottom’s first foray into the mode of the tour documentary. This is no ordinary rock doc, however…

Full interview for The Skinny

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A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2017

Returning for its fifth instalment (and second in a row at the lavish Picturehouse Central), the team behind this year’s Sundance London gave British audiences a flavour of the American indie scene of 2017. As well as bringing together UK, European or international premieres of various buzzy titles that made their initial bow at the main Sundance Film Festival back in January, this year also offered big screen revivals of some past Sundance premieres of note (Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape among them) and the first instance of a surprise film (Patti Cake$, out on general release this autumn), as well as the usual shorts programme and filmmaker talks.

This year’s main lineup was a mixed bag quality-wise, and it certainly didn’t look great that only one of the 14 premiering features (Marianna Palka’s Bitch) was directed by a woman – last year had three, including closing film Tallulah. That said, the strongest titles were very strong, and there was definitely variety to the stories and filmmaking styles on display. The Skinny caught the vast majority of this year’s feature lineup, so here’s an unranked top five of some of the most notable or distinctive films on offer, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas or on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime soon…

Full feature for The Skinny

Raoul Peck on ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ & James Baldwin

In such troubled times as our current moment, where Western society seems doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past by stalling or demolishing progress in various forms, it is important to take heed of the words of those whose commentary has only become more relevant with time.

The late James Baldwin was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, political activist and social critic, best known for his articulations of the unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual and class tensions in Western societies. Being both black and gay gave Baldwin an insight into very specific experiences, but Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, himself a political activist, believes that Baldwin’s words resonate beyond race and sexuality…

Full interview for The Skinny

Lost in France (Niall McCann, 2016)

In the late 1990s, a group of musicians involved with Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow-based independent record label, hired a bus and went on a road trip to a town in rural France to play a one-off concert. Two decades on, a reprisal of the trip for some of those originally involved is the backbone for Lost in France, director Niall McCann’s affectionate, intimate documentary on the label – exploring what’s made Chemikal Underground and its acts endure for 20-odd years…

Full review for VODzilla.co

All This Panic (Jenny Gage, 2016)

The closing credits of documentary All This Panic commence with “A Film by Jenny Gage and Thomas Betterton,” an unusual credit in that Betterton is otherwise not listed as a director for the film, but as cinematographer and also one of the producers. The attribution feels appropriate, though, as the combination of Betterton and Gage (who herself has a background in art photography) both went about documenting the subjects of their movie over the course of three years, primarily in intimate, small group set-ups and with camera lenses more commonly used in narrative filmmaking…

Full review for The Skinny

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny (Louis Black/Karen Bernstein, 2016)

A couple of years back, critic-turned-director Gabe Klinger made a film called Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater. Instead of a traditional documentary tour of the respective filmographies of his director subjects, Klinger instead presented a series of extended chats between Linklater and his (perhaps unexpected) friend Benning, the latter being an older filmmaker better known to fans of the experimental and avant-garde. It allowed you to get a sense of Linklater’s ideas as an artist through more laidback means, rather befitting of the nature of his films, as he goes about doing various activities with Benning, such as hiking or playing catch, offering anecdotes to the other artist, instead of delivering filmmaking mantras to camera in an interview set-up.

Flash forward to 2016 and now we have Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny, a biographical portrait of Linklater alone that’s certainly much less innovative in terms of form, and ultimately feels less insightful. The personal connection isn’t lost, though. Dream Is Destiny is co-directed by Louis Black, a founder of the South By Southwest festival that has played host to many of Linklater’s films across his career. Occasional actor Black can also be found in Linklater’s breakthrough film Slacker, credited as Paranoid Paper Reader…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land (Rob Alexander/Steve Read, 2016)

With so many music documentaries around that focus on great artists with a tendency towards egomania, it’s refreshing to find one that’s about a musician – and a highly influential one at that – who seems entirely uninterested in self-mythologising. Android in La La Land profiles electro pop pioneer Gary Numan, who was derided and revered in the press in equal measure as he went about selling millions of albums in the late 1970s and early ’80s, before it all came crashing down…

Full review for Little White Lies